Fishing for Smiles event welcomes special needs anglers

Last week, I wrote about the annual Fishing For Smiles event at the Dunton Pond on I-40.

There were more than 120 kids, along with parents/guardians and a plethora of volunteers out there for that event.

That event was very rewarding for all those who participated, but there was another, much smaller event held for another group of special citizens from the Kingman community.

They are the special needs kids and adults, and do they ever like to fish!

Every year, the same organizations and people who make Fishing For Smiles possible - the Mohave Sportsman Club, Kingman Elks Lodge No. 468, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Dunton family - host what many think is the most important fishing event of the summer.

This year, there were special needs kids and adults, along with their assistants, from two different organizations in town.

Normally there are three groups, but according to Bill Shilling, one of the members of the Fishing For Smiles steering committee, one group that was invited and usually brings clients to the event did not attend this year.

And that is a shame, because all of those out there had a great time and seeing these folks catch fish and enjoy themselves in the great outdoors was a great experience for all.

Shilling estimated that there were more than 25 kids and adults, plus 14 assistants at the event. There were another 20 volunteers from the sponsoring organizations, and two members from the Region III Hunter Education team were present.

A member of Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan's volunteer posse was also on hand to assist.

Just about every participant in the group caught at least one fish, and when a fish was brought in all of the kids and adults shouted out praise and encouragement to each other.

Once photos were taken and handshakes given, the lucky catfish were returned to the half-acre pond.

One heart-warming sight was watching Dunton patriarch Roy Dunton Sr. sitting alongside of and fishing with these special kids.

He, just like the kids, was having a great time!

The kids and adults, along with staff and volunteers, were treated to a hot dog and hamburger lunch courtesy of the members of the Kingman Elks Lodge cooking team.

Exalted Ruler Ken Coombs was on site again, and headed up the cooking team.

As the kids and adults loaded up to go back to town, they all shouted out their appreciation to their staff and volunteers for the event and said that they would be back next year.

The Kingman community is indeed fortunate to have such a great group of volunteers and organizations who provide a fun and exciting outdoor recreational event for ALL of our citizens.